Long before the internet, long before the age of the world wide web, fan films were a rarity. Often times they were made by very serious filmmakers who wanted to pay tribute to their favorite pop culture facet, and more often than not the fan films were typically underground elements or screened only locally. These days with the world wide web at your finger tips, anyone can make their own fan film for a low budget, and become the hit of the moment. Not to mention, they can land themselves a sweet directing gig at a Hollywood studio, if someone eventually watches it and spreads the word. Sometimes, fandom just catches on and becomes an infectious bit of lifestyle to admire and acknowledge.
There are plenty of wonderful fan films with the motive only to entertain, and “Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation” is one of them. Filmed by three school mates (Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala, and Jayson Lamb) over the course of seven years, the fanatics of Steven Spielberg’s seminal “Raiders of the Lost Ark” took the initiative in constructing and directing their own full length version of his film with their own props and set pieces. The film was for many years a rare piece of filmmaking until it was screened years later and became a critical hit. This is mostly due to its ambition and ability to pay tribute to Spielberg’s film while also giving it the indie flair that many modern indie films lack. It has no real polish to it, but it’s still a damn fine remake from three guys who just loved the movie, and sought out to give it their own stamp.
Many critics have given this fan film a thumbs up, and one bold movie critic even implied it to be better than the original. The fan film rose to popularity thanks to film fans and its eventual showing in the popular film festival the Butt Numb Athon, and has continued to live on as a worthy companion piece to the original film. Along with it being a testament to the value of fan filmmaking, and the love for film, it has garnered cult status, and is currently being developed in to its own film. For now, author Alan Eisenstock offers up his own interpretation of the big production with a story that chronicles the making of the film. Told through a account that feels an awful lot like something out of a Jean Shepherd story, where the characters in the book not only experience making a film, but come of age in the process. It explores that unobtainable goal, and what it’s like to collaborate and create.
Even if it was created first by someone else. Told through the eyes of both Eric Zala, and Christ Strompolis, “Raiders!” documents the boys’ lives and how they both sought out to make this film with very limited resources and almost no experienced actors on the production. Thought light prose and some really entertaining inner monologues from both characters, “Raiders!” hearkens back to the likes of “Cavalier and Klay” where both characters brought something magical to the forefront based on their love for the medium of film and storytelling. While doing so they experienced life, love and tragedy and eventually came to be celebrated by movie fans alike many years later. The book itself as a narrative, seems to be a template for the movie currently in development, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a darn good read with a memorable account of a trio of fans getting together to prove creativity doesn’t need millions of dollars. Just determination and ingenuity.